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NFL Indsider - Mark Maske

Decisions Coming for Free Agent Quarterbacks

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 9, 2005; 1:01 PM

The most prominent quarterbacks still available on the free-agent market likely will pick their new teams within the next few days.

Jeff Garcia, the former three-time Pro Bowl selection in San Francisco who was released by the Browns last month after only one season in Cleveland, met with Seattle Seahawks Coach Mike Holmgren on Tuesday. That came on the heels of Garcia's second meeting with Denver Broncos officials.

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Ex-Titans Finding Riches Elsewhere (washingtonpost.com, Mar 8, 2005)
Giants Have an Eye on Burress (washingtonpost.com, Mar 7, 2005)
Brady Deal Could Come Soon (washingtonpost.com, Mar 4, 2005)

He also is being pursued by Detroit and Tampa Bay. Signing with the Lions would reunite Garcia with his former coach in San Francisco, Steve Mariucci. Garcia might have a chance to eventually unseat Joey Harrington as the starter in Detroit, whereas he clearly would be a backup entering next season -- barring an injury -- in Denver, Seattle or Tampa Bay. Garcia has told the teams interested in him that he plans to make a decision by the end of the week.

The Chicago Bears hosted Jay Fiedler on Tuesday and are scheduled to host Brad Johnson on Thursday. The Bears continue to look for a backup for Rex Grossman after losing out on Kurt Warner, who signed with Arizona instead.

Fiedler, the former Miami starter, also is drawing interest from the New York Jets, who could be a more attractive option because starter Chad Pennington is coming off shoulder surgery.

Johnson, the Buccaneers' former Super Bowl-winning quarterback, is to complete a two-day visit to Detroit today.

The Dolphins could sign Gus Frerotte, an unrestricted free agent from Minnesota, to back up A.J. Feeley.

Burress to Visit Giants Today

Free-agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress is scheduled to visit the New York Giants today. But then again, he was scheduled to visit the Giants on Monday, and didn't show up.

Burress told the Giants he was sick Monday. Some people around the league are convinced that any queasiness Burress was feeling stemmed from the Giants' contract offer to him, worth about $3.5 million per season and including a signing bonus of approximately $4 million. He has been seeking a more lucrative long-term deal with a signing bonus closer to $10 million.

There have been rumblings that Minnesota or even Philadelphia could jump into the Burress negotiations, but the interest in him on the free-agent market has been mild. . . . Pittsburgh obtained Burress's replacement Tuesday by agreeing to a four-year, $8 million contract with free-agent wide receiver Cedrick Wilson that included a $2 million signing bonus. . . . The Buccaneers re-signed wideout Joey Galloway. . . .

Kansas City finally landed some free-agent defensive help, agreeing to a seven-year, approximately $35 million contract with linebacker Kendrell Bell, formerly of the Steelers. The deal includes about $10 million in bonus money. The Chiefs previously had tried but failed to sign free-agent linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, who re-signed with the Eagles instead. . . .

Cornerback Ty Law, the perennial Pro Bowler released by New England in a salary-cap move, likely will visit the Chiefs in the coming days even though he still is recovering from surgery on the foot injury that cut short his 2004 season. The Chiefs still need help in the secondary after hosting free-agent cornerback Samari Rolle on a visit but hesitating in their effort to sign him, apparently because of a narrowing of his spine reportedly found during his physical with the club. Rolle signed with Baltimore instead.

The Chiefs had planned to host cornerback Fred Smoot on a visit today, but he agreed to a six-year, $34 million deal with Minnesota on Tuesday. Kansas City is to host free-agent safety Sammy Knight today. . . . The Vikings are making some serious defensive upgrades. They acquired linebacker Napoleon Harris from Oakland in the Randy Moss trade. They added a top defensive tackle, Pat Williams of Buffalo, in free agency. And now they get Smoot to team with Antoine Winfield at cornerback. . . .

The Smoot-Winfield pairing with the Vikings is the second superb cornerback tandem created by a free-agent signing this week, following the Rolle-Chris McAlister combination in Baltimore. . . . The Vikings also re-signed tight end Jermaine Wiggins, an unrestricted free agent. . . .

The Cardinals signed veteran safety Robert Griffith, who'd been released by the Browns. . . . Punter Toby Gowin changed teams via free agency, leaving the Jets to sign with Atlanta. . . . The Falcons also re-signed reserve offensive lineman Steve Herndon. . . . Cornerback Terry Cousin, who'd been cut by the Giants, signed with Jacksonville. . . . The Patriots took guard Stephen Neal off the restricted free-agent market by re-signing him. The former NCAA wrestling champion became a starter for the Super Bowl champions last season.

Fowler Deliberations Under Way

Members of the NFL's finance committee are scheduled to meet today and Thursday in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and will consider the proposed sale of the Vikings from Red McCombs to Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler for approximately $625 million.

There have been questions raised about whether Fowler has the wealth to be able to structure the deal to the NFL's liking. The sale must be approved by at least 24 of the league's 32 team owners, and the ownership body generally follows the recommendation of the 10-member finance committee. Fowler would become the first African-American majority owner of an NFL franchise if the deal is approved.

The owners are scheduled to meet in Hawaii beginning in 11 days, but it's more likely that the Vikings' proposed sale would be put to a vote at an owners' meeting May 23-25 in D.C. . . .

Vikings Coach Mike Tice reportedly met Tuesday with representatives of the league investigating allegations that Tice and one of his assistants, running backs coach Dean Dalton, violated NFL rules by selling Super Bowl tickets collected from the team's players for a profit. Tice denied the allegations.

Harrison Tries Officiating

New England safety Rodney Harrison has been one of the league's most heavily fined players because of his rugged on-the-field style, but he's giving officiating a try this week.

Harrison is in Tampa participating in an officiating internship program sponsored by the league while players train for the NFL Europe season. Harrison said in a telephone interview late last week that he might consider becoming an official after he retires as a player.

"Everyone thinks this is a joke, but it's not," Harrison said. "I'm serious about it. I'm going to give it a try and see how it goes, see if I like it, and you never know what could happen in the future. I have a wealth of experience in dealing with players, dealing with coaches and dealing with all sorts of situations that come up during a game, and that could be a valuable resource for an official to have. I respect the job that those guys do."

Sharper Release Coming

Green Bay safety Darren Sharper's contract calls for him to receive a $2.6 million roster bonus on Friday. He would have a $3.4 million salary next season under the terms of the deal. The Packers have been unable thus far to get Sharper to agree to a reworked contract and, barring a breakthrough in negotiations, he likely will be released before the roster bonus is due. . . .

The Dolphins are attempting to complete a contract agreement with free-agent linebacker Donnie Spragan. . . . Safety Donovin Darius, given permission by Jacksonville to seek a trade after being given the Jaguars' franchise-player tag, is shopping himself to Miami and Minnesota.

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